Although e-commerce has made it quite easy for just about anyone with an idea and internet access to create a veritable business, it doesn’t mean that every online company will succeed. In fact, some have estimated that a shocking 97% of e-commerce businesses end up failing.
That number is incredibly disheartening to the thousands of entrepreneurs who have dreams of grandeur when launching their online store. While there is certainly no guaranteed recipe for success, some “ingredients” are more important and necessary than others when it comes to building an online store.
Getting your online business up and running takes a lot of work, planning, and action. But keeping it growing steadily requires even more. Although there are a lot of factors (both controllable and uncontrollable) that play into a company’s success, there are three main aspects that no business will be able to survive without. Let’s discuss.
1. A Superior Customer Experience (CX)
Positive customer experience is directly tied to the high conversion rates that lead to a growing business. According to the latest research from Medallia, customer experience is the leading factor in brand loyalty and purchasing decisions. 77% of customers stated they chose a particular company because of the positive experiences they had with that brand. This report also found that 64% of customers would actively steer clear of a company after a single negative experience.
This study proves that your online business must be structured to support a positive CX in every single aspect. Even a little bump in the buyer’s journey can turn a consumer off and send them to a competing seller.
Remember that every single interaction a customer has with your business is a part of their experience, including the conversations with sales teams or problem resolution with customer support. Be sure that you have the necessary tools in place to support a great CX, such as a CRM system for customer account management and data tools for personalization.
The root of the CX is grounded in the design of your website, so pay close attention to the details that could make the task of using your website difficult. The checkout page is a super important area to focus on, considering that 74% of customers will abandon their cart if the purchasing process is too long or difficult. Be sure to offer multiple payment gateways and automatic shipping and tax estimates so that no unexpected surprises pop up that could interfere.
2. A Well-Connected Business Team
Although a steadily growing business is obviously a good thing, especially during times of rapid growth, it can be easy for the important details to get lost along the way. You may need to hire additional help to keep things running or pile on additional tasks to your current team member’s to-do lists.
Unless everyone shares a similar set of values and a united vision and passion for your business, this could lead to disconnect, burn-out, and frustration. For this reason, periods of rapid success have led to the ultimate downfall of businesses that were unable to keep up with demand or sustain their internal operations.
It is crucial that you put systems in place to keep everyone on the same page. First, everyone will need to have access to the data that they need to do their job correctly – whether it be customer information, access to business resources, or important data analysis for strategic purposes. It is likely going to be best to integrate an all-in-one project management system that allows for collaboration, internal communication, and file sharing so nothing gets lost.
Nimble works for you by automatically combining your team’s Office 365 contacts, communication histories, email inboxes, and calendar appointments with over 160 SaaS business app contacts and social media connections (like Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook) into one unified team relationship manager.
It is also important to pay attention to the internal culture and employee connectedness. It is clear that when the workplace is highly engaged, everyone is more productive and the company as a whole tends to be more profitable. Unfortunately, though the business may be succeeding, the focus can often switch to maintaining growth rather than establishing a great company to work for.
One-third of employees stated that they would leave a position due to poor company culture, so it is imperative to cultivate a great work environment. Try to hold regular meetings (in-person if possible, but virtual if necessary) so that everyone on the team still feels connected and supported. Be sure to regularly recognize achievements, congratulate success, and maintain a united focus – even as things change.
3. A Strategic SEO Approach
SEO is a critical piece of the success puzzle for online businesses. However, although you may have found initial success with your original strategies, as your company grows, you may need to adjust to reach larger customer bases.
You will need to conduct regular SEO audits to measure the performance of your website’s current content and keywords. Be sure that you don’t get caught up in traffic numbers here. Just because visitors are arriving on your site does not necessarily mean that your SEO strategy is working. You need to take your bounce rates and click-through rates into consideration to see if your content is actually bringing in valuable customers.
Furthermore, as your business grows, your customers may change, too. In order to keep your content marketing strategies fresh and build relationships with new customers, you will have to identify new keywords that connect your brand to new audiences. Take a look at Google Trends and Keyword Planner to find related longtail searches that could be incorporated into your site.
You may want to try topic clustering to help make connections between your current content subjects and trending searches to boost up keyword presence.
There are certainly many more things that play into a thriving online business than the ones on this list.
Apart from the obvious factors like great products and satisfied customers, online business owners should be aware of the additional, less-obvious aspects that are crucial to long-term success. By keeping a focus on the overall experience, the internal workings of the business, and the online presence through strategic SEO, online companies can create a solid foundation to grow upon.